The stakes may not be as high as in the US presidential election, but a feathered competition in New Zealand does indeed seem to have evidence of fraud. The country’s “Bird of the Year” competition drew more than 1,500 fraudulent votes for the Little Spotted Kiwi (also known as the Kiwi Pukupuku), according to Forest & Bird.
The illegitimate votes briefly brought the Kiwi to the top of the preferred bird ranking, but the votes have since been removed from the competition, the agency said.
“It’s lucky we saw this little kiwi try to cast an additional 1,500 votes under cover of darkness,” Bird of the Year spokeswoman Laura Keown said in a statement.
“But like any other bird, they have to obey the rules to win the competition.”
The votes were received in New Zealand in the early hours of Monday morning and were discovered by the competition’s official scrutineers at Dragonfly Data Science that afternoon. They have all been traced back to the same IP address in Auckland, the most populous city in the country.
“All of our birds deserve a chance to fight, especially this little manu, our smallest kiwi, so threatened by predators that it has become extinct on mainland New Zealand outside of predator-free sanctuaries,” says Keown.
Everyone can vote
New Zealand has hosted Bird of the Year competitions since 2005. It was established to generate interest in the country’s native birds and promote the protection of endangered species. Past winners include Yellow-eyed Penguin, Kea and Bar-tailed Godwit.
You don’t have to live in New Zealand to vote. Participants can choose up to five types to vote for. Only one set of votes is allowed per email address. Voting ends on Sunday, November 15th at 5:00 p.m. New Zealand time (late Saturday here in North America).
“If you really love the kiwi pukupuku, get out and campaign for them in Bird of the Year,” says Keown. “We don’t want to see cheating anymore.”
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